Court won't hear anti-gay marriage group appeal
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a national anti-gay marriage group that tried to thwart Maine's campaign disclosure law requiring it to release its donor list, but it's unlikely the list will be made public soon.
The high court turned aside an appeal from the National Organization for Marriage, which donated $1.9 million to a political action committee that helped repeal Maine's same-sex marriage law in 2009.
Maine's campaign disclosure law requires groups that raise or spend more than $5,000 to influence elections to register and disclose donors. NOM contends that releasing the donor list would stymie free speech and subject donors to harassment, but the lower court refused to throw out the law.
Voters repealed Maine's gay marriage law in 2009, but it's on the ballot again in the Nov. 6 election.
For now, the 2009 donor list remains under wraps. The head of the Maine ethics commission and an assistant attorney general said it's unlikely it'll be released any time soon while a separate case makes its way through the state court system.
The ethics commission is still investigating whether NOM falls under the state's ballot question committee requirements, Executive Director Jonathan Wayne said.
While the federal lawsuit has played out, the ethics commission's investigation has been delayed by NOM's efforts to stop subpoenas for information.
A superior court justice upheld the subpoenas in state court over the summer, but NOM has appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court. As part of the appeal, NOM's attorneys may request another delay pending the outcome, Wayne said.
"The commission is interested in winding up its investigation, but it will take some weeks," he said.
Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, which supports the same-sex marriage proposal on the ballot, said gay marriage supporters don't care so much about who's on NOM's list of donors but rather want the organization to play by the same rules as everybody else.
"It's not like we're dying to get those names. There's nothing about the list itself that's important," he said. "We just think they should play by the same rules as everyone else and disclose where their money comes from. If they're going to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign like they did in 2009, the people of Maine should know where that money's coming from."
NOM President Brian Brown was traveling Monday and not immediately available for comment. His organization is involved again in the same-sex marriage ballot question in Maine.
The group this month announced it had donated $250,000 to the campaign in Maine. It's also registered a political action committee, the National Organization for Marriage Maine PAC, to oppose the referendum.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)